Late 30s, unplanned pregnancy, unstable relationship, confused
April 3, 2013 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Late 30s, unplanned pregnancy, unstable relationship, confused. This is my first time posting here so please bear with me. I'm in my late 30s, divorced, with a 9-year-old child. For the past 2 years, I've been involved with a man I love dearly...however, our relationship has always been rather tumultuous. He has bipolar disorder, and when we met, he was not taking medication or under any type of psychiatric care. I didn't know how to handle his mood swings, irrational accusations of infidelity/dishonesty, and controlling behaviors so I broke up with him. A few months later he contacted me and said he was under the care of a psychiatrist, medicated, and stable. We got back together. Things were better, but still rocky at times. We were engaged for a few months last fall, had another falling out, and got back together. We decided it was best to hold off on marriage for a while. He owns his home but is currently unemployed, living off savings and has tenants who are essentially covering the mortgage.

About a month ago, I found out I'm pregnant. He absolutely doesn't want the baby and the rational part of me knows it would not be the right thing to do. I love him but I know this relationship is pretty much over. I'm extremely hormonal, and he's been pretty unsupportive, telling me I'm not emotionally ready to have another baby, that it would place an unfair burden on my family (I travel a lot for work, and my parents watch my 9 year old during those times), that he doesn't want to be forced to be a father, and some other rather terrible things. So, the right thing to do seems clear.'s still so hard. I already feel attached to the "baby,"....and the thought of having an abortion tears me up. At this point, my bf and I are broken up, and I would have to go through the procedure/recovery without him. I'm afraid of how I would feel afterwards, that the sense of loss would overwhelm me. I've looked into adoption....I think I could go through with it if it means the chance for the child to have a shot at a normal, happy life with 2 stable parents. But I don't know how that would impact the child I do have, and my family. At my age, this will probably be my last pregnancy and I'm just so confused as to how to proceed. I've only told 2 friends--one is also pregnant (happily married) and supports whatever decision I make...the other has pretty much stopped talking to me. She's been telling me for some time that the bf is bad news, and said she can't stand by and watch him ruin my life.

So....thoughts? Advice? Kind words? A kick in the butt for making such a stupid mistake?
posted by kribensa to Human Relations (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hopefully nobody here will provide a "kick in the butt", that typically isn't useful.

It appears to me that you've already determined that making a life with the father of your unborn baby is not the direction you should be heading, and, based on what you said, that's probably a good decision. Also, he is not the individual that should be advising you at this point.

The decision as to keep the baby, have an abortion, or give it up for adoption is the type of decision that probably shouldn't be guided by strangers on the internet. I would really encourage you to seek out a therapist with experience in this area. You have a difficult decision to make, draw in all the qualified resources to can access.
posted by HuronBob at 6:56 AM on April 3, 2013 [47 favorites]

Look, we all make mistakes. Please be kind to yourself.

Listening to what you're saying, you're not ready to care for another child and either adoption or abortion will be difficult for you. I think you have to pick which of the options will then be the least difficult for you.

It's not wrong for you to make the right decision for you and your daughter whatever you decide that will be. And know that no matter what decision you make, you have at least one friend who will stand by you.

I wish you the best.
posted by inturnaround at 7:03 AM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

In my experience there are wonderful counselors at Planned Parenthood, they can help you lay out your options and connect you with resources for whatever you choose. I know when people think of PP they think of abortion but they really do have some great services/connections for people looking to place a baby for adoption or to continue their pregnancy. I found myself unexpectedly pregnant once and they were the most compassionate people, I really recommend finding someone without a personal stake in this to talk to. If you need any help finding someone in your area feel free to memail me. ::hugs::
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 7:06 AM on April 3, 2013 [46 favorites]

A kick in the pants for what, being human?

So he has already decided that he doesn't want the baby. Okay, that's probably for the best because he was never going to provide stable parenting anyway. The question now is: what do YOU want?

julie_of_the_jungle is right... Planned Parenthood has amazing, trained counselors that can help talk you though your decision. They won't try to convince you to have an abortion, they will just try and help you find the best course of action for your situation.

Good luck and remember to cut yourself some slack! You shouldn't beat yourself up over this.
posted by fireandthud at 7:10 AM on April 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

Since you trust your parents enough to care for your daughter, perhaps you can discuss this with them. Even if you don't accept their advice, if they offer any, it may be helpful to talk with someone you trust. Therapy is a resource, though it may be difficult to build a genuinely trusting and informed relationship during the time available for decision making.

I think the depth of your concerns and the clarity of your perceptions about the "relationship" bode well for you. The choices you face are difficult, but you've apparently made the decision which avoids a likelihood of long-term disaster, i.e. staying with him.

Be well. Good luck. Be strong. (Other platitudes implied.)

P.S. Another vote for Planned Parenthood as a wonderful resource.
posted by uncaken at 7:12 AM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

Listening to what you've written here its clear: you already love and want this child.

Honestly? That's what matters. So have the baby and keep it. From the post you sound capable and competent and have a good support system. Not perfect, but good. Ignore your ex bf, he has only one agenda and that is to convince you to get rid of this terrible inconvenience to HIS life. Frankly? He's crazy and don't get sucked into a dialogue with him on this. This is your decision and you shouldn't consult someone who is coming from such a bad place.

In decisions like this its very very easy to get caught up in all the fears and doubts and end up making a decision based on fear. Don't. Find a place of love and joy and peace and make a decison from there. I've walked a mile in your shoes and am happy to help more - memail if you want.
posted by zia at 7:16 AM on April 3, 2013 [24 favorites]

I think you need to stop talking with this man, at least until you've decided what you want to do. Yes, he's the sperm donor (I'm not going to say father, both because you haven't decided yet whether you're going to become a mother again, and because his behavior means that he doesn't deserve the honor of that title), but he's had the chance to make his position clear, and he has done so. Now you need to surround yourself with people who care about you and will help you care for your family going forward, whatever choices you make. It's time to end this relationship, and make it clear that any contact you might have going forward will be to deal with the legal issues that will follow if you decide to continue the pregnancy.

I agree with julie of the jungle that a counseling professional with experience helping women like you could be really helpful. If you have a gynecologist you trust, s/he might be a great first resource. If there is a Planned Parenthood or its equivalent in your area, call them (be sure it really is a full-service women's health clinic; a lot of "crisis pregnancy centers" are actually fronts for anti-choice political groups who try to browbeat women into giving up their right to make a free choice about what to do). There are resources to help you make this choice yourself. And it's a really difficult choice, but know that whatever you choose to do, the people in your life who love you will help you, both practically and emotionally.

You have done nothing wrong. Nothing. This man who is trying to make you feel terrible about yourself is doing it for his own selfish reasons, or because he is ill, or because he is an asshole. He had sex with you just as much as you had sex with him; you're not "forcing" him into anything by making whatever choice is best for you about whether to carry this pregnancy to term and what to do after that if you do have a baby. What's happening to you now could have happened to any one of the literally billions of people in the world who have sex for reasons other than wanting to procreate, and it doesn't say anything about your intelligence or your morality or anything else about you. You are clearly a capable, smart woman who cares deeply about your family. None of that will change, no matter how you decide to proceed.
posted by decathecting at 7:18 AM on April 3, 2013 [21 favorites]

The right thing isn't clear here. Not by a long shot.

Just because he doesn't want the baby doesn't mean he gets to decide if you're having the baby. You get to decide that.

And whichever decision you make will be the right decision. It may be a painful decision --- whether it's abortion, adoption, or keeping the baby it may be a painful decision because each will have its challenges and each will affect you (and your daughter) differently.

Please talk to someone at Planned Parenthood. Please talk with your regular care provider.

You don't have to make a decision today.
posted by zizzle at 7:27 AM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

In addition to finding a great therapist, perhaps you should find a great family law practitioner to find out what a child support/visitation arrangement might look like. Perhaps that will better help you imagine your future if you do have this child. Good luck.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:32 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

It is hard, and I'm sorry that you're going through this. Please do seek counseling - I'll also agree that Planned Parenthood is a fantastic resource. Our family doctor, who knows us all, was a great person to talk to. But I will say that protecting the family you already have, and offering the child you already have a shot at a normal happy life with even just one stable, happy parent (you) might be another way to frame the decision you're making.

I am close to you in age, with a daughter close in age to yours, and had to make a similar decision some time ago. I found there isn't a lot written about making this decision from the perspective of already being a mother, and I wished for more. One thing I did was to let myself spend one entire day being happy and imagining all the good things - and I also let myself spend one day indulging in thinking all of the harsh realities. I came across my list of pros and cons not long ago, and how I wrote down on those days what would be different based on which decision I was imagining, and I finally pitched it. For a while, I felt like I was still making the decision even after it was done. Interestingly, I'd remembered that the cons list was longer - but now in retrospect I also see that it was practical, and the pros list was very emotional. For me, the sense of loss is there - but the feelings of relief and our family's forward progress far outweigh the very faint grief I carry a few years down the road.

You don't need any kicks on the butt - you need support, resources and understanding. It's not a stupid mistake, it's that humans are only fallible -- and being a woman, you are vulnerable in this particular way. Take care, and warm wishes for the best for you, whatever you choose.
posted by peagood at 7:33 AM on April 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

I'm not going to tell you to keep the baby, because only you can make that decision. It's clear from what you've written that that's what you want in your heart right now, though. And that's ok. That's natural. Abortion is for people who don't want or can't have their babies. Neither seems to apply to you, although you could decide otherwise.

I am going to tell you to take your ex bf out of the equation, though. He doesn't want the baby so it's none of his business. But, given what you've told us, I think it's likely that collecting child support from him will not be a reliable source of help.

I do think you should talk to your parents, though, and see how much help you might be able to count on from that quarter.

Remember babies are only "babies" for about three years in terms of needing that intensive level of care. After that it gets a lot easier.

I hope you're not talking to that ex, he sounds like bad news and the last thing you need to be confusing you right now.

Good luck and hugs to you
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:34 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, the the unsupportive, unstable, unemployed, borderline-abusive guy says you aren't "emotionally ready" to have another baby? Sheesh. You're absolutely right about one thing: this relationship is 100% over, because part of the defination of a 'life partner' is that partnership --- and any guy who acts like this isn't worth another second of your time. DTFMA now, if you haven't already; don't talk to him, don't phone or text or email him, and don't reply to his messages, unless it's through a lawyer.

As for the baby: you need to do what's right for you and your 9-year-old, whether that's abortion, adoption or keeping the child. Ignore anything that jerk says, concentrate only on what is best for you and your family. Whether he wants to be a father or not is immaterial, he is just as responsible for a baby he helped create as you are, although I really doubt you can count on any financial or emotional support whatsoever: no matter how much a court orders it, for example, its likely he'll never pay a penny in child support.

*If you keep this child, can you fully provide for it and your 9-year-old by yourself? (Don't count your parents in this equation, just can you do it solely by yourself.)
*As the adoptive aunt of several kids, the only thoughts I have about their birth mothers is gratefulness for the marvelous gifts they've given us.
*Abortion.... that's a tough one. I fully support a woman's legal right to chose for herself, but that doesn't qualify me to chose for someone else. I'm going to chicken out on this one, and advise you to talk to your local Planned Parenthood clinic: they can help you make a fully-informed, rational choice.

Talk to those two friends you mentioned --- I'm sure the one who's pulled back will be there for you in a flash. Please take care of yourself, and good luck!
posted by easily confused at 7:34 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is no one right answer here. This is going to be a very emotional decision. Having a child will always be an emotional decision. The only practical thing about having a child is if you need someone to help with the chores or to carry on some family legacy. Otherwise, when weighing the pros and cons, the pros will always be less practical and more emotional. The cons will be very practical. "Not enough time/money."

I wouldn't presume to give you advice on such a matter based on the few paragraphs you have written. I can say that what you have written sounds like it is well thought out. You seem to be carefully considering all the angles. I would weigh heavily the effect on your 9 year old. Know that when you finally make the decision, it will be the right one for you at the time. There will always be "what ifs".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:47 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with HuronBob, this might not be the best place to seek answers. However, one thing I can say is that this situation is what it is and any regret you feel about it having come about doesn't need to be factored into the decision you make next - in these situations many women feel pressured to take the option they think they 'should' take as opposed to what they 'want' to take, in the mistaken (and often unconscious) feeling they should somehow be punished for having made a mistake. If any of these outcomes feel like the 'cross you must bear' that's a red flag waving.

What you need right now is support and perspective. This is a difficult situation but it isn't insurmountable and whatever decision you take need not cast a long shadow. You're asking the right questions and talking it through with a professional will help you understand what the best option for you personally. Having a clear understanding of your reasons for choosing will help you manage - whatever the outcome you will be ok.
posted by freya_lamb at 7:50 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

It is very hard to do, but I think you should try to shut out all the messages you are hearing from others about what you *should* do (though there's a clear dose of irony in my telling you this) and listen to your own voice telling you what you want. If you honestly believe that raising a second child as a single mother will ruin your life or have unacceptable negative consequences on the child you have now, then that is what you go with.

But if you want the baby, then that is worth something. In fact, that is worth a whole lot. I suppose it should not be the only consideration. But if you want the baby, I personally think you should start from that point and figure out how to piece together your life to support that desire. Rather than starting from the point of looking at the pieces of your life and deciding a priori that they cannot withstand the strain of another child.

You can then turn your mental energies toward creating a normal, happy life for your kids with just 1 stable parent. Don't let anyone convince you that you're not capable of that.

"We choose to go to the moon, and to do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

I've had an abortion. I gave birth to my second child against the wishes of my then-husband in the context of an imploding marriage. I have no regrets--in part because that is also a choice I have made.
posted by drlith at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is not going to be the level of detail that I would like to give, but I was in almost your precise position except for the job thing - I was actually laid off due to illness and desperately looking for a new job - and I didn't already have a child. The father was beyond unhelpful and mean about everything, we were actually in the process of breaking up when I found out, and I was almost 40.

I kept the baby. After all of the logic and everything else, I knew the connection was there and that I didn't have many other chances. I felt that we would make it somehow, even if it meant changing my intended trajectory. It's worked out for the most part, but it'll probably be another couple of years before we're fully stable, so it's also been really hard.

I gave him the option of not being involved at all - leaving while I was still pregnant. I encouraged this. I told him I'd absolve him officially of all responsibility, on paper, and he never needed to know even one thing about the baby. He chose to stay involved. This has not always gone well. I gave him the option when she was newborn and a few times more in her infancy before their attachment was formed to move on and be free if it bothered him so much. He decided to stay involved. This hasn't been easy. But he chose to form a relationship with her, and they love each other, so we work on it. I admit that when he's making things hard, I sometimes feel that I should have just moved and claimed I'd terminated. It gets that extreme.

But...I'm happy with the choice I made. It was so hard to do it, because I felt somewhat irresponsible for it, and so many things have gone wrong or been ridiculously difficult. And I don't know how my decision would feel if I were already raising a child or had an existing career to worry about. It's working out, though, and I feel it'll all be solid when it most needs to be.

I think your decision - whichever one you choose - will be the same way. It'll work out to the best advantage. You know your heart, you know your capabilities, you know your limitations. You know the shape of the family that will satisfy your soul, even if it takes compromises and sacrifices and working through hard choices.

I wish I had more time to answer this better and in a more targeted fashion. Please feel free to contact me through MeMail or email (see profile). My heart goes out to you and I wish you strength.
posted by batmonkey at 7:58 AM on April 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

No kicks allowed. Your potential baby's father is doing more than enough of that, and it sounds like you're doing too much of it too.

Make the decision that is right for YOU and YOUR CHILD (other people are saying daughter but I don't see where you said your 9-year-old is a girl?). Not your relationship, not this other potential baby, not your parents, but YOU. And YOUR CHILD. Those are the two people who need you to be 100% "on" right now, the only two people who you are responsible for.

You are the only person who can make the right decision for your well-being and your child's well-being. You are the only person on the planet who can/will prioritize the needs of a 9-year-old child. Whatever you do, you are teaching your child some very important, lasting lessons about relationships and valuing yourself. What do you want your child to learn from you?
posted by headnsouth at 8:16 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I totally understand the emotion-led place you're exploring your options from, but from the logical standpoint, you need to recognise that you need more information than you have. You live in NY state and you can't actually make the unilateral decision to raise this child without this man in a parental role; you need to talk to a family lawyer because this stuff can get complicated, especially with a father who's wishes may change on a whim.

Should you decide to raise this child, for example, he can both petition to establish paternity and get "frequent and meaningful" visitation should he ever feel differently about parenting than he does now. Additionally, you need to be crystal clear with your family lawyer on the legal situation regarding your ability to place this child for adoption both with and without the cooperation of the father, depending on how he chooses to exercise or not exercise his legal rights.

There is separately the bipolar aspect, which in addition to being a complicating factor in terms of his involvement, is a potentially an issue with the child's health. You need to find out more about the hereditary nature of BPD and the implications of paternal age at conception, and think about whether you are prepared for a greater-than-average chance (if indeed there is one) at raising a child with this potential disease. The father's genetic history would also have to be shared with any potential adoptive parents.

All of this is separate from child support, which the last time I checked was not a "buy in" right in NYS. Again: family lawyer if you want to do anything but terminate, which is the only choice where he doesn't have the option to exercise legal rights.

I cannot advise you whether you should raise, adopt or terminate this pregnancy because this is such a deeply personal decision into which so many factors play, well beyond what people on the internet can assess. What I can tell you is that the hormones, they are CRAZY. I did nothing but weep for the week before my scheduled abortion. As soon as it was over, the hormone crash lasted for 72 hours and then things got much, much better.

Occasionally my husband or I will say "Huh. If we hadn't terminated we'd have a kid who was X years old" but there's no residual trauma associated with that statement. Mostly when I think of it, I think "I am so glad I'm not raising an X-year-old at 40-something." (Your circumstances may well be very different than mine but I thought I'd let you know that.)

I wish you the best whatever you decide and however you get there. Feel free to MeMail me.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:18 AM on April 3, 2013 [15 favorites]

The bio father does not have a say in this. Don't let him bully you into giving up this child if you want to keep it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:19 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think this is one of those moments where you have to a deep dive into your own feelings and do what you damn well please, not what you feel like you 'should' do in any direction, but what you most want to do and feel is right.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:54 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]'s still so hard. I already feel attached to the "baby,"....and the thought of having an abortion tears me up. 

With these words of yours, you have already made the 1st decision by heart - which is, to have the baby. The next decision is what you really seem to be struggling with: to raise your baby, or to give for adoption. Hopefully, the separation of these two issues makes it easier. Best of luck.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:25 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am not personally comfortable saying anything about whether or not to have the baby, keep the baby, etc. I only came here to say that a practice which has stood me in good stead when faced with hard decisions is to pick a future date upon which to make a decision and decide to not decide until then. If I were you, that's what I would do here.

Let's say you need to decide by week eight whether or not to abort and it is week four. I would pick a specific date on the calendar somewhere in week seven and not decide until then. Before that, read all the pros and cons in this thread, talk to counselors, etc but do not make a decision. When X date shows up, you will have spent a few weeks thinking on it and looking at your options. Whatever you decide at that time will be much more measured and easier to make your peace with.

Let's say you then decide to not abort but you still do not know whether to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Talk to adoption agencies and find out what a realistic late decision date is. For the moment, let's pretend they tell you that it is okay to decide at month eight but better to do so by month six for blah reason. You decide blah reason is important and relevant. Pick a specific calendar date at about 5.5 months along and do not make your decision until that day. Prior to that, keep a journal about how you feel, do more reading, etc. Whatever you decide on the chosen decision date will be far more carefully considered than any decision you could make now.

There are real deadlines involved here. Don't decide by "default" of failing to decide in time to act. But don't pressure yourself to decide too quickly either. It is a hard decision. Give it whatever time you reasonably can so you can adequately consider all angles. Then, win, lose or draw, you will be a lot more at peace with it.

Also, genes don't really care how miserable they make you in their quest to replicate themselves. That's a large part of why sex feels good. Don't beat yourself up about it. Make the best decision you can for all parties involved and then make your peace with it. (If you happen to keep the baby, your "penance" is being a good mom. That's it. No burning in hell for it or something.)

Best of luck, ((((cyberhugs, but only if you want them)))), live long and prosper.
posted by Michele in California at 9:52 AM on April 3, 2013

I bet if you were to make a list right now of the things that would make you truly happy regardless of rational thinking 1) would be have the baby and 2) would be a drama free committed relationship with someone who would love you and provide a safe home for you & your children. You absolutely deserve both of those things and the only thing standing in your way of having either of them is this douchebag.

Don't live your life in regret based on the bowing to the pressure of outside forces who clearly don't have your best interest in mind anyhow.
posted by haplesschild at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

he doesn't want to be forced to be a father

Nthing everyone who says to take him out of the equation. He does not have your interests at heart.

Big hugs dear.
posted by rozaine at 10:19 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Addendum: He accepted the risk of being a father when he decided to have sex.
posted by rozaine at 10:25 AM on April 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

With these words of yours, you have already made the 1st decision by heart - which is, to have the baby.

Children are not raised by heart. They are raised by parents, with childcare and money and time and energy and schools and family and support and by people with their own limitations - emotional, financial, practical. What the heart wants -- to have a baby, to be an astronaut, to get a puppy, to move to Malawi and open an orphanage -- is not always what is possible or practical or best, for one person and for the people around them. That's why these decisions are hard. Rarely is it about figuring out what you want to do, but rather what you're going to do in balancing that want against all the other stuff on Planet Reality.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:44 AM on April 3, 2013 [40 favorites]

I'm going to repeat some advice I've given elsewhere, which is: take a moment, an hour -- take a few days, or a week even -- and think about whether YOU want to bear and / or parent THIS baby. Forget the guy, forget your parents, forget your friends: just get clear on what YOU want. As DarlingBri says, what you want and what your heart wants is not the only consideration, but it is definitely an important consideration, and you can't make an informed decision without that information.

Once you have that information, you can figure out how you want to proceed. But I would strongly caution you against making decisions -- ANY decisions -- until you know what you want. Even if you ultimately decide that what you want isn't practical or possible and you will make a different decision, you need to make those decisions with a clear head and a clear heart, not because you're running away from your desires.

Look, I won't be coy. Just because you say you feel attached to this baby doesn't mean that under your circumstances, an abortion is the wrong decision. But just because the father is unstable and emotionally abusive (and will be a part of your life for the next two decades if you co-parent with him) and you travel a lot for work doesn't mean that an abortion is the RIGHT decision, either. If you do choose to terminate, you need to be clear with yourself that you are making that decision because of factors X, Y, and Z, despite the presence of factors A, B, and C; the same thing goes if you decide to bear and/or parent this baby.

Last but really, really not least: I believe in you. I have faith in you. I trust your ability to make the right decision for yourself, for your 9-year-old, and for your family -- and you are the ONLY person with the information and resources available to make that choice. Good luck; I'll be thinking of you.
posted by KathrynT at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

You do not want to be tied to a crazy person for the rest of your life. You don't want to saddle a baby with a horrible father. But those are simply things to consider. You might be able to get him to relinquish his rights and then raise it and support it on your own.

Talk this over with a counselor.
posted by discopolo at 11:20 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

You need to think about whether you can adequately support an additional child without help from other people. You must also consider what is the best thing for your current child. Will you be able to support your current child -mentally, emotionally and financially- the way they deserve on your own if you have another one?

I emphasize the 'on your own' piece because (going on the age you give in your post) your parents are getting older and the level of support they can provide will continue to decline, particularly because infants and very small children are very tiring even for young people. Even if they say they are willing to help, you have to be realistic about their possible level of ability.

Emotionally, we all want all kinds of things. But that is not a way to make a decision that is so important. I strongly recommend talking to the people at Planned Parenthood. They will help you impartially whatever you decide. Good luck. I know this is hard.
posted by winna at 11:44 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think many people could, and have, come to terms with the fact that their parent had an abortion at one point.

Especially once they have been through young adulthood and understand one of the main themes of this thread - that we are human and sometimes, things don't happen the way we intend.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:50 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I just want to say that I had a co-worker that adopted a child after he and his wife had infertility issues. They work with an organization where the pregnant mothers get to pick the family for their child. My coworker's kid's birth mom was you - she was an older (in terms of childbearing) woman who already had children (in her custody) and the father of this child is someone who was not doing any good in her life and she knew would not be good for a child. I think a lot of people think adoption is something willy nilly young girls do after spring break, but that's not the case, so you should feel comfortable exploring that option.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:59 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Grown-up men understand that they are making decisions about pregnancy when they decide to have sex; I want to join the pile-on that says to ignore him here. It may not seem nice but he is clearly looking out for his interests only, so, nuts to his views.

As for the interests of other parties -- apart from you, how do you think this would go down for your nine-year-old? Not that that should be the deciding factor, but if you have a strong feeling that your kid would benefit from a sibling, that might help you in making a decision.

+1 talking to a family law attorney to get an idea of what things might look like if you continue the pregnancy. If bio-father there is not a total write-off I would hope he would cheerfully accompany you to a consultation. If that is out of the question for him (and no good adult alternative, like him seeing his own attorney or the two of you visiting a counselor, is offered, then) he really, really, really does not need to be taken into account when making a decision.
posted by kmennie at 12:52 PM on April 3, 2013

When this happened to me, recovery in the emotional sense took a couple of years, and I was okay for those years, just a bit delicate and sad when reminded of it. I did grieve over it. I think I grieved more over having to make such a sad choice than over the abortion.

Being tied to the person who impregnated me would have made my life difficult into perpetuity and while I felt like I could sign up for that, I didn't feel okay signing up for that on behalf of a child. I was unwanted by my father and for the better part of my life that was a near-constant ache.

I'd also consider your physical safety. You are highly vulnerable to partner violence as a pregnant woman.

Sorry you're dealing with this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:59 PM on April 3, 2013 [13 favorites]

Also, to be clear, the potential father's opinion matters very much to the potential child. Even though my father tried his best to show love for me, his unwillingness mattered and he, like this man, was unstable and incapable of maturing into a loving father until I was in my 20s. It matters.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

Good luck with whatever you do. You must make sure that you're doing what YOU want. Take some time, and counselling with PP is a good idea. Make sure you know what you want - this is entirely your decision. {hugs}

You're the one that knows. What you decide is right.
posted by glasseyes at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2013

Darlingbri makes an important point -- just because your ex says he's not interested in being a father now doesn't mean he couldn't do a 180 and insist upon being involved in your life in the future. A chat with a lawyer about the potential monkey wrenches he could throw into either parenting or giving your baby up for adoption is probably in order.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:14 PM on April 3, 2013

This doesn't have to be your last pregnancy.

I'm early 40's and considering another child. I met my beloved husband at 38, after a previous divorce, and then the ending of another major drama-y relationship. Very happy now. Gave birth to my first child at 40.

A friend is pregnant for the first time at 44. I believe my 2nd cousin was born when my Aunt was 42 (or there abouts.) I know both my Aunt and her sister, my Grandmother, were heavy cigarette smokers. Years later, my 2nd cousin graduated valedictorian and went on to have a career and a healthy family of her own.

You seem really caught up in drama with this guy.

You don't know what your future holds romantically or fertility-wise.

On top of everything else, you don't need to worry this is your absolute last chance to have another child, as it obviously isn't true.

posted by jbenben at 3:18 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would like to add that, in a way, each choice is going to hurt. There is no way for you to avoid pain at this moment.

You have an ex that does support you and you are pregnant.

Have the baby and keep it: you will have drama with the baby daddy and lack of support you need.

Have the baby and put up for adoption: you may not be able to with out his permission. You will have the loss of your child, and possible guilt from that.

Have an abortion: possible guilt or grief after the pain of the procedure.

You are in a tough spot. It is your decision. I had an abortion, and I have no regrets. But I didn't feel any bond for the child. For me the decision is right. I bet you already know what is the right choice for you. I wish the best with that.
posted by Monday at 3:29 PM on April 3, 2013

I can't tell you whether to continue your pregnancy or not. I really sympathise with your dilemma; I'm sorry all this has happened to you. What I can say is that I was conceived when my siblings were your kid's age, and my mother, despite having no ethical issues against abortion, continued her pregnancy for reasons very similar to your own - a feeling of emotional connection to the foetus, and the knowledge that it would probably be her last pregnancy.

It wasn't enough. Turns out, foetuses turn into babies who scream all night. And babies turn into toddlers who throw tantrums and need to be fed and bathed and toilet trained. Toddlers turn into kids who need toys and books and rides and constant attention. And kids turn into teenagers who beed orthodontic care and driving lessons and throw yet more tantrums. My mother was not ready to do any of that again. She said all the right stuff about me being a lucky mistake and told me I was loved regardless, but it was pretty obvious to me throughout my childhood that I was a huge inconvenience, a handbrake on her a career and a decision she secretly regretted.

I don't regret my own existence, but to be honest it's taken me a long time to feel okay about myself as a human being. My personal belief is that yes, she made a bad decision when she decided to have another kid. All kids are inconvenient; it's just that when a parent really wants to be a parent, the inconvenience is tolerable. That wasn't the case for her, and I suffered as a result.

So, I'll say what others here are reluctant to say: don't have this kid unless you really, really want to be a parent again - not in some idealised possible world, but in the circumstances you are actually in, mentally ill bio-dad and all. Think carefully about whether those circumstances will cause you to resent your kid in any way, and consider whether you can really keep that resentment bottled for the next 18 years of exhausting hard work.

I'm sorry for being so blunt - I really do feel for you and I would never push anyone towards an abortion they really didn't want. It's just that conversations about unplanned pregnancies so rarely include the perspective of the kids who are born from them, even though they are most-affected by the decision. My perspective is that a miserable childhood is much, much worse than peaceful non-existence.
posted by embrangled at 3:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [12 favorites]

I don't have anything to say on what your choices are, and others have offered plenty of good advice. So I'm just going to remind you of something:

I know it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but no matter which choice you make, you will be okay. A year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will be fine. You sound smart, emotionally intelligent, and prepared to handle the challenges that will present themselves on any of the paths you choose.

I will reiterate what others have said in that you have nothing to blame yourself for. So let that go. You have AskMe's permission to stop blaming yourself. Tune out your ex, your "friend". Right now what you need most is to have faith in yourself to make the best decision for you and your family. Trust yourself.

Yes, this is a life altering choice, no matter which choice you make, but that's not a bad thing. Life altering choices are just a part of how your path reveals itself.

Don't worry about what feels hard. Do what feels right, and you will. be. okay.

All the best.
posted by dry white toast at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of people are telling you to ignore the ex-boyfriend and just decide whether you're capable of raising another child on your own. I don't know what your situation is with your 9-year-old's father but the biological father of this potential baby has some hardcore rights, and if he's unstable, unkind, and vindictive then you--and his unwanted child--may have a lot more to contend with than a single income. A relationship with the kind of drama that you've described (pre-baby) will be a very, very expensive nightmare when custody and child support are involved. Consider the very real possibility that you will be dragged into court repeatedly, you may be harassed at work, he may be hot and cold with the child based on how much he wants to get at you on any given day, etc. This is not a question of one parent or two. This is a question of bringing a child into an emotional (and probably financial) rollercoaster. Not to mention the damage all that drama could do to your existing child.
posted by headnsouth at 5:12 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

Thank you all so, so much for your insights. The advice you gave is extremely helpful. Initially, I was looking at it from the angle of doing it on my own but--and I now realize I should have included this in the original question--I really cannot predict what he would do or try to do if I carry the baby to term. Since I told him I was pregnant, he's vacillated between wanting me to get an abortion, to "I love you, let's keep the baby and raise it together," to telling me I should "give" the baby to him and he will raise it (!), and finally back to he doesn't want it, telling me I'm on my own if I choose to go forward and he is going to "hide" his savings so I can't get get any child support. I spoke with an adoption agency earlier and they said he would need to be notified before an adoption could proceed, unless I didn't name him as father on the birth certificate. I am going to talk to someone at PP tomorrow.

Thank you all, again, for sharing your perspectives, especially those of you who have been down this road.
posted by kribensa at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

they said he would need to be notified before an adoption could proceed, unless I didn't name him as father on the birth certificate.

Just FYI, if you don't name him as the father on the birth certificate, in most states he would have the power to invalidate the adoption if/when he later found out that you had given the baby up without his consent, even months or years later. See, e.g., the Baby Richard case. These cases can take years to resolve, to the detriment of the children. I'd strongly caution you to get your own lawyer if you choose to remain pregnant, whether you decide on adoption or raising the child yourself, and to make sure you do everything by the book so that this volatile man can't use the legal system to mess with you or the child.
posted by decathecting at 5:51 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

Talk to a counselor, but, I don't see any reason not to have this baby, and to keep it, if thats what you want to do. You may need to change things in your life, but if you are convicted, and really want this baby, then get a plan together that makes it possible.

It's not an optimal situation, but any child born to a loving parent will be okay.

No matter what you decide, it's the right decision for you. Hang in there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:17 PM on April 3, 2013

in most states he would have the power to invalidate the adoption if/when he later found out that you had given the baby up without his consent, 

Because, the biological parent has rights, the same type of rights that protect the mother. This is a good thing, even though it may come across as an inconvenience.

OP, you are doing the wise thing by attempting to get a final indication from the baby's father before proceeding, and PP should advise accordingly.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:17 PM on April 3, 2013

Honestly, him vacillating and being unstable is way, way worse than him simply not wanting the baby. Imagine it's three years from now and you get an amazing job offer in a place that would be great for you and your family, but you need to move. Good luck convincing him to move without dragging you to court. Imagine he's bringing women in and out of your child's life and you can't do anything about their broken heart every time a new "mom" disappears. Imagine you have a stable long-term boyfriend who wants to adopt your child who he's raised as his own from the age of 2 and this guy fucks that up because he is too unstable to parent and too irrational to do what's best for his kid.

Seriously, it can get extremely bad in a really depressing and permanently life-altering way. You will be giving up control over a significant portion of your life to this wildly unstable man who is in no way fit to parent.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:21 PM on April 3, 2013 [14 favorites]

The vacillation is scary to me, too. If you decide to keep the baby, make sure you have money for lawyers just in case things go sour.

I have a friend whose ex-husband does his best to destroy her in costly legal battles over custody--just for doing her best to keep their children out of horrifying, abusive circumstances. Tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills. And after the last case settled, presumably settling matters for the next two years, he went to court again suing her for slander for things she brought up in court and that's still going on. The goal in suing her for slander is to get her making payments to HIM, pretty much for life; it's doubtful that will happen, but in the meantime the charges must be defended, and that means paying even more lawyers. All this while his child support (when he pays it--and he has at times sabotaged his employability to avoid paying any) did not even entirely cover the airplane tickets she had to buy for the kids' court mandated visits (that are thankfully no longer an issue, as the court ruled in her favor and she now has full custody). He routinely doesn't pay his share of medical bills, and he will likely never pay the costs the court mandated him to pay from the last custody cases.

Watching her go through years of stress and suffering over this has been heartbreaking. I think this is an extreme case, but just make sure you're prepared to navigate some very tricky and expensive circumstances if they come up.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

i'm really sorry for the tough situation you are in. i think it is good you are going to talk to someone who can help you sort this out. personally, i would go see a regular therapist rather than someone associated with planned parenthood as they do have a bias. i'd want someone who could advise me more objectively. or, you could consult with several professionals if that helps: someone at pp, a therapist, an adoption agency and a lawyer and of course your parents. please don't rush this very important decision. all the best to you.
posted by wildflower at 11:58 PM on April 3, 2013

I second the young rope-rider... having a father who runs hot and cold is incredibly painful and confusing for a child, and there is little you can do to keep him from maneuvering himself into your child's life, and thereby your family's life. Because of that, I think your 9-year-old is an equally important part of this decision.

My parents had a less than harmonious relationship when I was growing up, and kids are much, much more perceptive and sensitive to the discord and instability than a lot of adults give them credit for. The past 2 years you've been with your ex may have already taken an emotional toll on your child. I don't mean to be cruel and suggest that you don't have your child's best interests at heart. I know my mom did her best for me, but one of her ways of coping with her own distress was to block out any signs of mine. When I talk to her about my father now, it's clear that she has no idea how deeply I was affected. I know she didn't neglect my feelings intentionally, but it hurt very much and the damage was just the same as if she'd meant it.

If your child has been hurt by your rocky relationship with your ex, could you realistically shield both children from the possible emotional and financial fallout for years to come?
posted by keep it under cover at 12:34 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I will give you the kick in the butt you asked for, since few others seem willing to. Here's what you wrote: "the rational part of me knows it would not be the right thing to do." Keep listening to the rational part of your mind, because the irrational part of your mind seems to have been running the show, and making some really bad decisions for you and your son.

You are morally obligated to put your son's needs ahead of your own wants. It doesn't matter that you kept wanting to get back together with a mentally unstable boyfriend -- you shouldn't have done it. It doesn't matter that you want to have a baby -- your boyfriend is correct that you are not emotionally ready to have another baby. Even if your boyfriend has not been living with you (and I hope to god he hasn't been), there is no way all this emotional chaos has not been affecting your son. You owe it to him to get some therapy and get yourself to an emotionally stable place where you are making decisions purposefully, rationally, and from an even keel.

Even if you were to end up regretting having an abortion for the rest of your life, that wouldn't make it the wrong decision. Spend the money you would have spent on baby things on therapy instead, exploring why you kept returning to the highs and lows of an emotionally chaotic relationship, and how you can gather the strength to resist bad impulses in the future. Kids need to be able to believe that the captain of their ship, the one guiding them through the choppy waters of life, is emotionally stable, wise, and in charge.

I'm sure this will sound very harsh -- I am bothering to write because I am concerned for your welfare and your son's. I couldn't sleep for hours, just thinking about it. You don't seem to be taking very good care of yourself and making good decisions for yourself and your son. That suggests to me that you are not ready to bring another child into your currently chaotic world.

Yes, this may be your last chance to have a child, but you need to do right by the child you have right now. Once you get yourself together, maybe a stable, supportive man will come into your life who will have a positive impact on your son. Maybe you will be able to have a child with him. And maybe not, but if not, you'll know you did the right thing for you son.
posted by ravioli at 5:11 AM on April 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

While I agree that dating unstable people is REALLY not good for kids involved, it's a very common mistake that single mothers make. Single parenting is hard and many mom's NEED more help than is available. Which means you're negotiating dating from a place of literally needing some extra emotional support and someone who is "on your side" in a world that is very much AGAINST single mothers.

Even professionals are frequently not on the side of the single mother but on the side of her child. Which in theory would be good for the child but it''s actually not because getting the mask on mom is really better for her child than watching her flail and telling her what a failure she is while she struggles.

This world is really hard on mothers, and from liberals this ironically tends to be associated with the existence of abortion, abortion being ASSUMED the right decision if a mother is struggling and society feeling very comfortable shaming a woman with issues into aborting a wanted child because of her difficulties providing.

While some people had incompetent parents and wish they had been aborted, some people who had incompetent parents are in fact happy to be alive. Life is messy and filled with suffering for many people. Some people may have been better off aborted. But it's very hard to determine simply from knowing a situation will have complications that a humans life is not worth living and they are better off not existing.

I came here to say-- OP-- yes you should make a decision in this based in compassion for your current child and your potential child. I believe you have the RIGHT to define your fetus as a baby and to act on it's behalf as a baby. To some people, infanticide is off the table even if would spare their child from a hard life because they believe a born infant can feel and is an existing person. A woman has the right to define how she feels about an entity in her body and it's personhood.

Meaning that if you feel that this entity already had personhood and termination would be taking a life that you would rather get to exist, don't let anyone here tell you your child is better off dead than living a hard life. That might be true for THEM but they can't speak for your child. DO act out of love. Do get some therapy. Do be more careful about who you date (and maybe not date at all until you can figure out some of the issues that lead you to date an unstable person even if that is years and years or you never wind up dating.)

But this entity is in your body. This is YOUR DECISION and no one here should be able to shame you or bully you into something that isn't what you think is best for you and your child(ren). As long as YOU know that you are acting in their behalf to the best you can, follow your instincts, and be the best mother you can be whichever direction you go.
posted by xarnop at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

OP, I agree entirely with xarnop that it's your decision. If you believe having the baby would ultimately be in the best interests of yourself and your family, then that is the right choice for you. You're the only person in the world who is in the position to make this choice, you're the only person who knows how it feels to live through this experience in your skin.

Please understand that I or others in this thread, who posted about possible consequences to the children, aren't trying to shame or bully you into an abortion. We just want to show you another side of things that perhaps you hadn't fully considered yet. It's a terrifying, confusing, and painful circumstance to be in, and I can't claim that I would know just what to do if I was in your situation. You've asked for other perspectives, and I feel that the children's perspectives are an important consideration too. Single mothers are often marginalized and silenced, but in my personal experience, so are the children who grow up in the midst of rocky adult relationships and mentally unstable parents.

I didn't intend to convey that abortion is the only option to protect your 9-year-old from the consequences of your ex re-entering your lives. So long as your child feels that they are heard, that their feelings and needs matter just as much as the baby's, and your child is not being exposed to conflicts between you and your ex, or your ex and your child's half-sibling. You can make sure you have the personal tools to enforce healthy boundaries that will keep your child secure emotionally, including boundaries between yourself and your child, and between your child and their half-sibling. This means that your child doesn't see you distraught and crying, and feel like it's their job to comfort you because your ex said or did something cruel again. This means that your child isn't obligated to provide an unreasonable amount of caretaking and emotional support to their half-sibling because the adults around them are oblivious or lack the resources. Professional counseling for both you and your child might be of benefit. And you can seek good legal advice to ensure that your family is secure financially.

Again, this is just another perspective from an internet stranger. I wish you the best in this decision.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:33 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

"I feel that the children's perspectives are an important consideration too."

Just to be clear I complete agree with this. But if, for example, a woman feels that the fetus has already reached a point of personhood, the problems mentioned above are not cause for termination of life but of seeking alternate solutions.

Assuming that mothers are harming their children by giving birth while poor because they should have had abortions is not a weight that will help mothers be better mothers or children get better resources. In fact it encourages a punitive system of observing struggling mothers and blaming the mother for the fact of giving birth rather than considering providing resources to help the family obtain stability.

But I agree with you that all of the above factors are very harmful for kids and parents need reminders that these are not good conditions for children and also assistance feeling supported enough to not need the crutch of support form people who are not healthy sources of support.
posted by xarnop at 5:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Edited to add- I'm considering a lack of emotional resources and disenfranchised status a state of poverty to clarify the word use without knowing economic status per se.)

In the case money is available, there are many services that can fill the gaps in needed emotional support and family enrichment- but learning what they are and how to use them without being intimated is a difficult task. One well worth doing instead of coping mechanisms that have more harmful consequences of use.
posted by xarnop at 5:45 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Assuming that mothers are harming their children by giving birth while poor because they should have had abortions is not a weight that will help mothers be better mothers or children get better resources.

Okay, but I don't think anyone is assuming that OP is giving birth while poor. I was actually surprised to see you using the words "poor" and "poverty" to describe OP and her situation, because it sounds like she has a good job (traveling a lot for work to me sounds like a responsibility for someone with a fairly important role). I see that you're considering lack of emotional resources and single motherhood as states of poverty as well, which I don't really agree with. If someone can afford to pay for resources like therapy/counseling and yet chooses not to, despite crucial need? That's not poverty, that's avoidance.

This is not about being a single mom and poor. My mother, who I mentioned above, was married to my father when I was conceived, is still married to my father, and is very well off. This is about making a commitment to a mentally unstable, emotionally abusive person. This is about the necessity of making such a commitment with eyes wide open to the potential consequences to the children, which my mother utterly failed to do.

OP, I don't know if you're still reading, but I'm so glad you reached out here for our thoughts, because my mother never had the courage to put herself out there like you have. I wrote what I did because I don't want another child to resent their mother the way I still resent mine. My mother cries when she sees other mothers enjoying very close relationships with their adult children, because she made the wrong decisions when her children were young and damage was done. I don't want you to have those regrets.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:24 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

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